The Ideal Body vs. The Ideal Body Image

I love the lead up to the Olympics. Every time you turn on  the TV, flip through a paper or look at a Cherrio box you are bombarded with inspiring stories of Olympians from all over the world. Every story is different but they all have one thing in common, they are positive and motivating. I love reading these stories and getting goosebumps as I watch commercials. However, one story caught my eye, an article about the struggles female athletes face when it comes to body image.

I’ve written about this before and it’s one of my favourite topics to discuss. In the spotlight we see the ripped, skinny, track stars with their amazing abs, tiny shoulders and muscular legs. You think they’re confident and proud of their amazing bodies. I can bet that they don’t always love their reflection. On the other side you have weight lifters who are heavier set and walking down the street you would have no idea that they are an Olympic level athlete. Are their skills any less impressive because they don’t have a tiny waist? No, of course not.

To paint a mental picture, I’m almost six feet tall, I have a slender but muscular build which leaves me looking like an awkward and lanky amazon woman. I am powerful, strong and I can move a boat pretty fast. I also carry my weight in my stomach and my long arms look noodlish no matter how many curls I do. In the gym I love every inch of my body and what it allows me to do, it pays the bills (in the least hooker way possible) I’m paid to make my boat go fast. So why do I spend time in the mirror looking at my stomach or feel sickeningly guilty about enjoying ice cream? Maybe it’s because I spend too much time looking at fitness models on instagram, who I know I could run circles around but they have millions of adoring fans admiring their abs. Or maybe its a coping mechanism to avoid the stress of training every day. I can’t always control my idiot coach or the weather or how sluggish I am on the water but I can control how much I eat and how I feel about my body. Some athletes find comfort in running an extra mile or staying on the water a bit longer than their teammates. For me, I take refuge in the fact that I eat healthier. I will say that my body image has improved tremendously in the last year, but I’m not at my happiest yet. That leaves me with the nagging question, is this a journey without a destination?

As I watch the Olympics at home this year, yearning to be there myself I will try to find motivation not from the amazing bodies of the women on the podium but from their impressive feats as athletes. After all, comparison is the death of joy.

HM

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